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    on January 10, 2022 Loyalty Programs

    How to engage inactive loyalty program members

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    There’s no doubt about it — inactive loyalty program members are an unfortunate reality for most brands. As a marketer, it’s your responsibility to win them back and we’re here to help.

    We understand that this might seem easier said than done so we brought in reinforcements to give some tips on how your brand can begin reactivating dormant loyalty program members. Zsuzsa Kecsmar, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Antavo, an enterprise loyalty program management software company, offered her insights around tips and tricks for reactivation, the importance of cultivating an emotional connection with consumers and how valuable personalization is when creating a stellar loyalty program.

    Why do loyalty program members go dormant in the first place?

    In order to solve your problem of inactive loyalty program members, you want to get to the root of your consumers’ dissatisfaction. While it’s always a good idea to go directly to the source and ask your loyalty program members why they haven’t engaged with you lately, it’s also in your best interest to have a general idea on why this happens.

    Kecsmar says it may be an issue of partial interest. When consumers are only interested in your brand when it's time to make a purchase, chances are they won’t be looking to spend any additional time with your loyalty program if it doesn’t aid them in that process. 

    “They’re not engaged enough, they’re only being engaged when they spend money. Transaction is the only touchpoint, so during downtime, there’s nothing to do in regards to the loyalty program,” said Kecsmar. 

    She also mentioned that if a customer doesn't shop frequently, they can become bored with the loyalty program, forget their password and stop interacting with your brand. Kecsmar says loyalty program elements engaging customers outside of the buying cycle help to solve this issue.

    So what elements can help promote additional engagement from your customers? Kecsmar suggests implementing content that will keep customers active so they don’t get bored during their “downtime.”

    “Rewarding behaviors outside of the buying cycle is becoming more and more important,” she said. “The most popular non-transactional engagements that are likely to be seen more in the future are writing product reviews, participating on social media and referring friends.”

    In terms of what those non-transactional engagements might look like, here are some of her favorite interactive options: 

    • Gamification
    • Surveys
    • Product reviews
    • Annual or surprise and delight rewards, such as company anniversary or birthday rewards
    • Friend referral

    After you understand the causes for inactivity among loyalty members, then it's time to move forward in optimizing your program.  

    Tip 1: Leverage personalization to craft relevant content

    Naturally, the second step in rebuilding a relationship with dormant loyalty program members is to create content they’ll find worthy of their attention. This is where having a good idea of who your customers are and what they care about comes into play. Luckily for you, inactive loyalty program members are still loyalty program members, which means they’ve most likely given you background information about what type of consumer they are. You can use this to formulate eye-catching incentives.

    “For instance, you can send an email with relevant data like: ‘You have been a loyalty program member for x time, but we haven’t seen you for a while. We’re now offering you a 10% discount on your next purchase.’ Or you can implement a new reward system or gamification elements,” said Kecsmar. "Personalized content feels relevant, thereby customers feel appreciated. It drives exclusivity and the feeling of privilege, and it helps build an emotional bond with customers. Customers will have a connection to the brand. Through personalization companies can create the best possible experience for your most valuable customers from the very beginning.” 

    Tip 2: Cultivate an emotional connection with your brand

    As your brand leverages personalization to create a personalized loyalty experience, you can also focus on emotional connectivity to reengage inactive program members.

    One way to create this emotional connectivity, Kecsmar says, is to offer experiential rewards.

    These experiential rewards can be:

    • Enhanced customer service or member-exclusive service
    • Priority access to products or buying clubs
    • Early access to sales and VIP events
    • Access to partner experiences
    • Behind-the-scenes events

    Rewarding customers through experiential means will allow you to create an emotional link between dormant loyalty program members and your brand, which Kecsmar says will result in a strong impulse that makes them feel obliged to shop with you. In addition to whatever logical reasons they might have for engaging with your brand (price point, product necessities, etc.) they will also interact with you because it promotes positive emotions.

    “They not only consider rational reasons, like another company having a better offer, but also think of the brand as part of their personality. For instance, if a brand is involved in charity, customers feel that by buying from that brand they contribute to doing good,” said Kecsmar.

    Considering your goal is to reactivate your dormant loyalty program members, Kecsmar says you shouldn’t ignore the influence your customers’ emotions have over their decisions as it may hinder your ability to have the strongest relationship possible with your customers.

    “If a company neglects this there will only be a cold, rational connection with the customer that can be easily replaced with another competitor brand," said Kecsmar. "This rational connection can be maintained as well but companies will need to put a lot more effort into the benefits. Also, emotional connection is long-term, although maintaining it requires constant attention, but costs a lot less for the companies.”

    Repairing your relationship with dormant loyalty program members will take time, but it is possible. Understanding why this happens, leveraging personalization and focusing on emotional connection can help encourage more engagement from members who have gone silent.


    Lindsay Keener

    Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.